COVID-19 and children: What parents need to know?

Mussaver Rashid Khwaja                                                                                    

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus. The disease caused by it was first identified in Wuhan, China, and has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ [UNICEF]

The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

By now, we know COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. While the situation is swiftly evolving, and experts are learning more on daily basis, concerns about the younger population may still be on parents’ minds.

For several reasons that nobody fully understands, COVID-19 does not impact healthy children as severely as the elderly. The first and most likely under the prevailing scenario is that children are getting infected with COVID-19 but are getting a milder version of the disease.

The disease seems to be more fatal in old people, adults and those with underlying health issues. There are very less hospitalizations in children in comparison to adults.

Other possibilities may be they’re not being exposed, or they’re exposed but don’t contract infection. Based on what’s known, it appears children contract COVID-19 but present a milder disease.

If we talk of our valley, here by the grace of Almighty Allah till date, our younger population is on safer side. In fact only a few children have contracted the disease but not to that extent and are doing well till date.

Still, parents want to be informed and take all possible precautions. Here are answers to some of the questions, parents might have about COVID-19 and how it affects children.

1. Wash hands, wash hands, and then again wash hands. Kids usually like to touch their face, nose, mouth, and eyes, the portals of entry for viruses into the body. So hand washing practice should be encouraged by parents especially before meals and when they enter home. Encourage them to practice hand washing frequently.

2. Doorknobs, Desktops, Electronic gadgets and other frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Parents who are health professionals should frequently disinfect their Mobile phones as they are carriers of various diseases.

3. Instruct your little ones to keep a safe distance from suspected people and cover their mouth with a handkerchief or tissue in order to prevent themselves from getting infected. It is best if you can avoid them to join crowded places completely.

4. Keep kids away from those who are sick especially with respiratory diseases. As it is evident that for Covid-19, the most important thing for containment is to isolate the people who are positive for the virus. And this is especially true for keeping sick kids away from elderly with underlying medical conditions.

5. If you have a child with a respiratory illness who has frequent contact with grandparents or caregivers, try to isolate them until the child is feeling better — kids can be reservoirs for respiratory illness.

6. Teach your kids the etiquettes of coughing and sneezing with a flexed elbow or with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and dispose of that tissue immediately.

7. Boost their immunity by regular exercise, indoor games, balanced diet, fruits, and fresh vegetables.         Avoid all types of junk food as much as possible, give them plenty of water to drink.

When should a parent seek medical advice?

Call your health provider, or reach to your nearest health facility if you know your child has been exposed to someone who has contracted COVID-19, or has symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, and shortness of breath.

Put these simple measures into practice to ensure the safety of your little ones and others in your family. Complete awareness and proper conduct can combat this disease effectively! # Stay Home, Stay Safe

(Author is PG Pediatric Nursing and Presently Working in GMC Sgr & Associated Hospitals. Can be reached at [email protected])

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